Things I have learnt from 33 pieces of clothing

In my quest to simplify my life I set two challenges for myself this year in regard to clothing: not to buy any new clothing this year (more on that towards the end of this year) and the 333 challenge.

For those of you who don’t know the 333 challenge, it was created by Courtney Carver (Be More with Less) a few years ago, after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, in an attempt to decrease stress in her life, which is known to accelerate the progression of the disease. The challenge is to create a wardrobe with 33 pieces of clothing (including shoes, jackets and accessories, but not underwear, socks etc. and sport clothing) and to wear only these pieces for 3 months. I decided to do the challenge with a friend of mine (helps with accountability and makes it more fun) from April to June this year and the change in seasons made it a bit more challenging, as well as planning for events such as a talk at a conference.

My 33 pieces included: 3 pairs of long pants, one pair of shorts, two skirts, 3 dresses, 4 blouses, 5 pullovers and cardigans in different colours, three simple tops in black and white, a blazer, a warm winter jacket, a black trench coat, two scarves, brown boots, black ankle boots, a pair of sandals, 4 pieces of jewellery (excluding my watch which I wear every day).

The rest of the things I packed away in boxes till after the challenge.

What made the challenge easier was that I had previously moved in February and had already sorted out and donated three large bags of clothing. While going through my clothing for the challenge I further sorted out things that don’t fit me well (skirts that are too short etc.) or clothes that just no longer are my style.

Lesson #1: Finding my style and what suits me

Many of us have things in our closets that were gifted to us, given to us as hand-me downs by family members or were bought when shopping with well-meaning friends who told us “that looks fantastic on you, you should buy that!”- while fully knowing it wasn’t really us and we probably wouldn’t wear it that much. The challenge helped me find the things I liked wearing and suited me while also helping me to further sort things out for donation (or selling, for those who have the time and energy for it). The good part about the challenge is that we tend to choose our favourite items for the 33 pieces- and these often are the pieces that suit us the best, fit well and we identify as our style. My style tends to be simplistic with my clothing mostly being one colour (black, grey, green or blue) and as such being easy to wear in different combinations but still with a touch of classical elegance. It also helped me identify the pieces I had bought more for others rather than for myself and to sort these out.

Lesson #2: Needing even less

Of the 33 things I had, I didn’t wear all pieces. I tended to wear the things I was most comfortable in everyday -so mainly jeans and a simple top with a cardigan- showing me how little of all the things I own I actually wear on a regular basis. I noticed that this choice was something of a “uniform”, which made and still makes getting dressed in the morning so much easier and less time consuming for me- it took a lot of stress out of it! Hardly anyone at all notices if we repeat outfits and no one really is bothered if they do notice. It also gave me a good incentive after the challenge to re-examine the rest of my clothing to look at what I really wear and what else can be sorted out. This goes for accessories as well!

Lesson #3: Finding out what I need

During the challenge I thought of a few pieces that I didn’t already own that would compliment my capsule wardrobe: a pair of comfortable black flats to wear everyday (boots get too warm and my feet hurt if I spend my whole day in sandals) and a simple black turtleneck. These are now on my list of purchases for next year.

Lesson #4: Time saved

For one, a simplified closet is very pleasing and calming to look at. The other thing is the time saved not trying to find things because of several layers of clothing on one hanger or a lot stuffed into one drawer- you get a great overview of your options. And the less amount of time needed to decide what to wear goes without saying.

Lesson #5: Better quality and more mindfulness

Another lesson from the challenge (or both challenges) is that I have become more mindful of the things I want and already have. Along with that I have put a greater focus on good quality and fair and sustainable production and because I buy less I am more willing to pay more for those qualities.

After the challenge only about 20 pieces rejoined my closet and the rest were sorted out and having 50 pieces feels like a lot!

I started with simplifying my wardrobe but after the challenge I have started to apply the challenge to other areas of my life. My apartment is tidier and less cluttered, I use a lot less beauty products and I have found a few more areas in my life I want to simplify.  There are many benefits from this challenge and it is an easy way to destress and simplify one area of our life. For those interested I highly recoomend having a look at the Be More with Less website as well as the challenge and even giving it a try yourselves!

Would love to hear if any of you have tried it or to answer any questions!



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